(As if we need an excuse to use this picture. Props: ESPN)
Remember earlier this week when we discussed our worries that Randy Couture was already making qualifying statements about his planned retirement? Turns out, Dana White also has his doubts. To hear DW tell it, it sounds like Ol’ Captain America is starting to get more and more salty with all the questions he’s facing about his future this week and – true to form – during the official UFC 129 pre-fight presser the UFC Prez didn’t shy away from telling us how he really feels about Couture’s plan to make Saturday’s bout with Lyoto Machida his last. Props to MMA Fighting for the somewhat exhaustive quotes, which we trimmed down a bit.
“No,” White responded when asked if he believed Couture’s talk about hanging up his gloves. “I’m going to go out there and say it again. I know he was chirping, he was mad at me earlier, but … Randy Couture, I’ve been saying it and you guys have been standing in front of me when I said it. This guy is one of the top 10 best in the world … Who knows with this guy? I’m not saying it’s not time for him to retire but who knows? He’s such a competitor that every time there’s something out there and he says, ‘You know what? I think I can beat this guy,’ I think he’s going to come out and try to do it.”
Personal note? We’d like nothing more than to see Randy Couture whip Machida’s ass on Saturday night and then walk away from the sport forever. But in reality? We think what we’re really talking about here boils down to just a couple of factors. Firstly – and maybe most importantly – whether he wins or loses. If Couture gets knocked out by Machida or in some other very obvious way has his old-li-ness exploited in front of a worldwide television audience, then maybe he really does retire. But if he wins? If he takes Machida on a guided tour of Clinch City in vintage Couture fashion, turns the fight into a grimy, messy war of attrition and walks away with a unanimous decision victory? We can’t feature him turning his back after that, honestly.
Secondly, it’s going to come down to Couture’s ability to ignore the pile of money the UFC will surely offer to pour over his head, ’specially if he wins. Can he do that? We kind of doubt it. Couture seems to be pinning a lot of his hopes for the future on acting and if that doesn’t pan out, we’re not sure where he goes from there. Commentating, obviously, but will that be lucrative enough for a guy with something like a half-dozen ex-wives and kids and a who-knows-how-successful gyms franchise and probably a bunch of other harebrained schemes in the works. Our guess? Not even close.
So, will we see Couture in the cage again after Saturday? Unknown, but if history is our guide, you know the way to bet …
“I’m happy for him either way,” White said. “First of all, he can go out on a win streak, go out on a high in his career, as old as he was, and literally go down as one of the greatest ever. Right here and now, we’re so used to him that we really don’t celebrate the fucking incredible journey this guy has had and the incredible athlete he is. I can’t get on the treadmill. I’m 42. Everything hurts. My leg hurts, my neck hurts, my back hurts. This guy is going out and fighting 22 year olds. Who does that?”